Reading

Zepharius: Volume 2 – Mel Synder | A Book Review

Zepharius - Volume 2 - Mel Synder

Title: Zepharius: Volume 2

Author: Mel Synder

Genre: Science Fiction

About the book: It’s the second novel in the series. The narrative follows Zepharius as she joins forces with a group that doesn’t trust her in order to protect the planet.

I received a free copy of the novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: The second volume picks up right where the first book left off. I found the pacing of this novel faster, since there’s less world-building.

Characters: The story mainly revolves around Zepharius, but the secondary characters grew on me as I got to know them better.

Quote:

“Attachment can cause someone to overlook all sorts of transgressions.”

Writing: It’s not too long or too short at 300 pages. Snyder is quite descriptive, but the chapters are short. The book is independently published, so there are spelling and grammar mistakes scattered throughout. While the book has glossary at the end, I wish some of the made-up words were defined as they appeared.

Final thoughts: Overall, the premise had potential for an interesting read, but it could’ve been written better. That said, I liked the second novel a little more than the first.


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Blog Tour: Author Interview with I.L. Cruz | A Noble’s Path

A Noble's Path by I.L. Cruz - Blog Tour Banner

Welcome to the blog tour for A Noble’s Path by I.L. Cruz!

About the Book

Title: A Noble’s Path (Enchanted Isles, Book Two)

Author: I.L. Cruz

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Bosky Flame Press

Publication Date: January 31, 2020

Synopsis:

Divided loyalties test Inez Garza.

The infamous incident at the Academy of Natural Studies has forced her to work for the King’s Men while continuing to serve the hidden market.

Supporting Birthright furthers the cause of Magical Return, but the cost may be the fall of the royal house and losing Zavier forever.

And the strongest pull of all is her growing and erratic magic, which demands everything and offers only destruction in return.

Inez must decide where her loyalties lie—saving Canto or saving herself.

The book is available at these ebook stores.

Author Q&A

When did you start writing?

Like all writers, I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. In preschool, the teachers had a special story time, when the kids could tell their own story and the teachers would write them down. Creativity was encouraged and it planted the seed. But if you mean when did I decide to make it a career, about 13 years ago. 

What’s the hardest part about being a writer?

Writing is easy. Rewriting is the hard part for me. I only write one first draft, but there are up to a dozen editing sessions between my own edits and then my editor and her edits. I think it’s hard to know when to say enough to editing. I then have to remind myself there are no perfect books.

What do you enjoy the most about writing?

There are so many things! One of the top five is being able to name things and people. Because I write fantasy it can run from the mundane to the outlandish.

How do you approach writing a book?

They all come to me in different ways. Sometimes I’m a plotter and with some I’m more a “pantser”. Most start with a name day, when I make lists of names for the characters and places. With all my books, my first draft is written by hand. I can’t start a project on the computer because it makes me self-edit too early. I’m a big believer in writing your story completely before worrying about word choice or info dumps. After that first draft, I type it all out and make notes along the way. By the time I’m done typing it I have pages and pages of notes, which I tend to address by hand as well. It’s a few drafts before it’s all on the computer and then a couple more before I show it to my editor. 

What inspires you?

Walking tends to inspire me. When I just walk around and let myself pay attention to everything, my mind goes down weird paths and all these “what if” questions proliferate. What if questions are the basis for all my stories. My current series came about because I asked myself, “What if Mother Goose characters all lived in a separate land with mythological characters inhabiting a neighboring land and fairy tale characters in another?”

How do you overcome writer’s block?

I have a few techniques for writer’s block. The first is to just let it be for a bit. I’m not one of those writers who think you must write every day. Sometimes I take breaks and the breather lets me recharge my imagination. After a few days, I move on to stage two—work on another project. I have a file of over twenty stories waiting to be written and just working on something new can bring my original project back into focus. The characters reassert themselves. The last stage is writing prompts. I’ll work on writing prompts for twenty minutes at a time. It’s never gotten past that trick.

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading The King’s Traitor, book 3 in the Kingfountain series by Jeff Wheeler, which combines two of my favorite tropes, palace intrigue and magic. I also started listening to books on Audible and I’m currently listening to The Fortune Teller by Gwendolyn Womack voiced by Lisa Flanagan and Robin Miles.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

The best advice I ever read was to write the story you’d like to read and then worry about the rest later. 

About the Author

I.L. Cruz decided to make writing her full-time career during the economic downturn in 2008. Since then she’s used her BA in International Relations to sow political intrigue in her fantasy worlds and her MA in history to strive for the perfect prologue. When she’s not engaged in this mad profession she indulges her wanderlust as often as possible, watches too much sci-fi and reads until her eyes cross. She lives in Maryland with her husband, daughter and a sun-seeking supermutt named Dipper.

Twitter: @ILCruzWrites 

Blog: fairytalefeminista.wordpress.com

Website: booksbyilcruz.com

Below is the full schedule for the blog tour. Big thank you to Rachel for hosting!

A Noble's Path by I.L. Cruz - Blog Tour Schedule

Reading

Grammar Girl Presents the Ultimate Writing Guide for Students – Mignon Fogarty | A Book Review

Grammar Girl Presents the Ultimate Writing Guide for Students - Mignon Fogarty

Title: Grammar Girl Presents the Ultimate Writing Guide for Students

Genre: Nonfiction (Writing)

About the book: This guide covers different aspects of writing. It is geared towards high schol and university students.

First impressions: I’ve been a fan of Mignon Fogarty, better known as Grammar Girl, for many years now. I picked up this book when I was still in school, but I never got around to reading it cover to cover until now when I`m no longer a student.

Content: The book has chapters on parts of speech, sentences, puncutation, grammar rules, and writing style/advice. There’s also a glossary, bibliography, index, as well as other sections. I especially liked the tips and pop quizzes scattered throughout.

Quote:

“Writers—professional writers—get writer’s block at different points in their lives.”

Writing: Even when explanining complicated rules, Fogarty is concise and to the point. She writes in a way that’s clear and easy to understand.

Final thoughts: I enjoyed reading the entire guide from beginning to end. It’s also a useful resource to flip through and skim certain sections. I highly recommend Grammar Girl Presents the Ultimate Writing Guide for Students to anyone who wants to learn more about grammar and improve as a writer.


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Reading

Zepharius: Volume 1 – Mel Synder | A Book Review

Zepharius - Volume 1 - Mel Synder

Title: Zepharius: Volume 1

Author: Mel Synder

Genre: Science Fiction

About the book: It’s the first in a series following Zepharius who realizes the world she lives in isn’t what it used to be.

I received a free copy of the novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I was intrigued by the premise because I thought it had potential to make for an interesting story. For the most part, the author builds the world in the beginning.

Characters: There aren’t too many characters to keep track of, as the narrative mainly revolves around Zepharius. She’s a likeable and relatable protagonist. The secondary characters are unique, juxtaposing each other well.

Quote:

“I can only look forward to the next days of my expedition and hope for clarity to become my reward in the end.”

Writing: It is an independently published book with some spelling and grammar mistakes. The story’s told in first person from the protagonist’s perspective. The author spends time describing many aspects of the world.

There’s a map and a visual guide of weapons as well as other objects mentioned in the story. There’s also a much needed glossary with pronounications and translations. The novel isn’t too long or short at around 300 pages.

Final thoughts: The pacing picks up near the end, and it sets the stage for the next novel in the series.

If you like sci-fi about different worlds, you might enjoy Zepharius: Volume 1.


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Reading

The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown | A Book Review

The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown

Title: The Da Vinci Code

Author: Dan Brown

Genre: Thriller

About the book: It’s the second novel in a series following Sophie Neveu, a cryptologist, and Robert Langdon, a symbologist. They try to solve codes left behind by the curator of a museum who leaves behind a religious mystery that other people also want to uncover.

First impressions: I finally got around to reading this novel after hearing so much about it over the years. I haven’t read the first book or seen the movie, so I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. The story starts with the curator being murdered and goes from there.

Characters: I liked Sophie and Langdon. They’re different yet dynamic. I enjoyed following them on their journey across Eruope, being chased by the police as well as other characters.

Quote:

“…men go to far greater lengths to avoid what they fear than to obtain what they desire.”

Writing: It’s written in the third person, and readers get to follow the narrative through several perspectives. I loved the short chapters. Brown was descriptive and included a lot of detail about art as well as religion. In my opinion, the symbols and codes included throughout added to the reading experience.

Final thoughts: The ending tied up loose ends and was satisfying in my opinion. For fans of adventure-based thrillers with historical elements mixed in, check out The Da Vinci Code if you haven’t already.


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Framed – S.L. McInnis | A Book Review

Framed - S.L. McInnis

Title: Framed

Author: S.L. McInnis

Genre: Thriller

About the book: Beth Montogmery thinks she has the perfect life until her best friend from college, Cassie Ogilvy, asks to stay with Beth and her husband. Little does she know that Cassie is connected to a quadruple homicide following a botched drug deal that left an undercover cop dead.

I received an advanced review copy from Hachette Book Group in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I love thrillers, so I was excited to read this novel. The cover is clever with an image of a piano, which ties in with the importance of music throughout the story. The quick pacing at the start drew me in.

Characters: The main characters are flawed with many having their own issues. I appreciate the backstories that came out later on in the narrative, as they shed light on why everyone made certain decisions.

Quote:

“In the end, he’s pretty sure nobody knows anything about anyone else.”

Writing: The chapters are short and suspenseful. It’s told in third person and alternates between the perspectives of Beth, Cassie, Beth’s husband named Jay, a police officer, as well as a criminal in Rick.

Final thoughts: I didn’t see the ending coming at all. It was unexpected and different.

I highly recommend Framed if you like suspenseful thrillers with unpredictable twists.


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We Are Not From Here – Jenny Torres Sanchez | A Book Review

We Are Not From Here - Jenny Torres Sanchez

Title: We Are Not From Here

Author: Jenny Torres Sanchez

Genre: Contemporary (Young Adult)

About the book: It follows 3 kids in Pulga, Pequeña, and Chico who attempt to make the journey from their hometown in Puerto Barrios all the way to the United States.

I received an advanced review copy from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I was looking forward to this novel as the premise sounded interesting and different from other books I’ve read. I like the title as well as the cover, both capture the essence of the story.

Characters: I adored the main protagonists. They are easy to relate to and likeable. I saw parts of myself in many of the characters. They develop so much, changing in such profound ways.

Quote:

“I guess sometimes lying to those we love is the only way to keep them from falling apart.”

Writing: The point of view alternates between Pulga and Pequeña. I loved the short chapters because they helped to build suspense and made me want to keep reading. The whole story is beautifully written but so heartbreaking at the same time. I enjoyed the Spanish words and phrases sprinkled throughout.

Final thoughts: I wasn’t sure what to expect with the ending, but I think Sanchez did a great job overall.

I highly recommend We Are Not From Here. It’s such a timely, relevant read that will have resonance for years to come.


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Alice by Heart – Steven Sater | A Book Review

Alice by Heart - Steven Sater

Title: Alice by Heart

Author: Steven Sater

Genre: Historical Fiction (Young Adult)

About the book: It’s based on a musical that follows Alice Spencer in London during 1940. She has to take shelter in a tube station because of World War II. Alice reads her favourite book, Alice in Wonderland, to Alfred, who is sick with tuberculosis. But slowly the two worlds begin to blur.

I received an advanced review copy from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: Even though I’ve never read Alice in Wonderland before, I found the premise intriguing. It took me a while to get into the story though.

Characters: I like the relationship between Alice and Alfred; it was very sweet and wholesome. There are a number of other characters as well, and I found them to be quite unique.

Quote:

“Although it breaks my heart, I’ll help you let me go.”

Writing: The author is descriptive, as he includes a lot of imagery. I enjoyed the photos as well as the illustrations interspersed throughout the book. They added to the reading experience, making it easier to visualize some of the scenes described.

Final thoughts: The ending isn’t too unpredictable, but I liked the end nonetheless.

I’d recommend reading Alice in Wonderland before reading Alice by Heart That way, the story is easier to follow and you can understand all the references.


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